Medicare’s Personal Health Records Pilot in South Carolina

As of Monday, thousands of Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in fee-for-service plans will be able to access their doctor and hospital claims online as part of a new pilot program in South Carolina.  This Personal Health Pilot is a new program from the Center for Medicare Services (CMS) and will help thousands of Medicare beneficiaries.

CMS has created the program to help encourage consumers to learn the use of PHRs and see how much and how well consumers use them.  Beneficiaries who use the PHR will also be able to enter some of their own information such as prescriptions they are taking and over the counter medications as well.  In addition, they will be able to use links to find websites with information about their individual health conditions.

On excellent benefit of the PHR is that individuals using it will be able to share their health information with their health care providers and their families by giving them authorization to be their authorized representatives.  These representatives will be given their own user I D’s and passwords.

The PHR Pilot began in South Carolina at the beginning of April 2008, and will continue indefinitely.  Security is of the utmost importance, and, as a result, the PHR Pilot was delayed by the concerted effort to make sure that the program is in strict compliance with federal data security standards and the highest privacy safeguards for patient information.

The PHR Pilot is an important step in involving all individuals in the medical process.  Of course, the Medicare recipient is the individual who will make the decision as to who has permission to access their information.  In the event that the beneficiaries allow their families or their physicians to access the information, the result could be better communication leading to better health care and more support.

It will be both interesting and important to see the progress and results of the Personal Health Records Pilot.  Hopefully it will be a foundation for more pilots and permanent programs throughout the country.

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